English Greek Tragedy Words

allusion
A passing reference to historical or fictional characters, places, or events, or to other works that the writer assumes the reader will recognize. May refer to mythology, religion, literature, history, or art.

anagnorisis
Recognition or discovery on the part of the hero; change from ignorance to knowledge.

antagonist
A character in fiction or drama who stands in direct opposition to or in conflict with the central character.

aside
In drama, a convention by which actors speak briefly to the audience, supposedly without being heard by the other actors on stage.

catalyst
A character whose actions serve to complicate the story, change the course of a character’s actions, or make possible the tragic or happy ending.

catastrophe
The final action that brings a play, particularly a tragedy, to its conclusion. It usually represents the tragic downfall, usually the death, of the hero as a natural consequence of a preceding action.

catharsis
Purgation of emotions of pity and fear which leaves the viewer both relieved and elated.

chain of being
A list of items that represented the Elizabethan world view. Every being, plant, or mineral has its place in the world; the view is very hierarchical and ordered.
Gods
Angels
Humans
Animals
Vegetables
Minerals

climax
The moment of highest intensity and interest in a drama or story. It is usually the crisis or turning point of the fortunes of the protagonist, the peak of the rising action.

denouement
The final resolution of the conflicts and complications of a play.

diction
Word choice. Judged by clarity and appropriateness.

epiphany
A moment of revelation or profound insight. In Greek myyhology, it was the sudden revelation to a human of the hidden or disguised divinity of a god or goddess.

exciting force (inciting moment)
The incident that sets the rising action of a play or other work of fiction into motion.

exposition
The immediate or gradual revelation to the audience of the setting, relationship between characters, and other background information needed for understanding the plot.

falling action
The part of a dramatic plot that follows the climax and leads to the catastrophe (in a tragedy). Conflicts are usually resolved, all questions are answered, loose ends are tied up, and an accounting is given of what happens to the main characters.

foil
A character who, by contrast, sets off or helps define another character.

foreshadow
The technique of giving hints or clues that suggest or prepare for events that occur later in a work.

Freytag’s Pyramid
A diagram representing the structure of a well-made play, especially in a tragedy with five acts.

hamartia
A tragic flaw, weakness of character or error in judgement, which causes a downfall of a hero.

tragic hero
A character, usually of high birth, neither totally good nor totally evil, whose downfall is brought about by some weakness or error in judgement.
NTC: Central character in a literary work, a figure directly involved in the main action, one who commands the most interest and sympathy of the reader or audience.

hubris
Arrogance or overweening pride which causes the hero’s transgression against the gods; usually, the tragic flaw.

motif
A recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation that appears in various works or throughout the same work.

motivation
The psychological and moral impulses and external circumstances that cause a literary character to act, think, or feel a certain way.

nemesis
Fate that cannot be escaped.

paradox
A statement that, while apparently self-contradictory, is nonetheless essentially true.

parallel character
A character whose similar situation or attitude toward a situation reinforces the main theme.

peripeteia
Reversal of fortune.

prologue
An introduction or preface, especially to a play. In Greek and Roman drama, a speaker gave the audience background information in a short speech before the chorus entered and the main action of the play began.

protagonist
The principal and central character of a novel, short story, play, or other literary work.

rising action
That part of a dramatic plot that leads through a series of events of increasing interest and power to the climax, or turning point.

soliloquy
A dramatic convention in which a character in a play, alone on stage, speaks his or her thoughts aloud.

style
A writer’s characteristic way of saying things. Includes arrangement of ideas, word choice, imagery, sentence structure and variety, rhythm, repetition, coherence, emphasis, unity, and tone.

symbol
Anything that signifies or stands for something else. In literature, a symbol is usually something concrete– an object, a place, a character, an action– that stands for or suggests something abstract.

theory of the four humors
In Ancient Greek and Roman times, it was belived that four fluids circulated throughout the body that controlled aspects of personality and complexion.

tragedy
An imitation of a serious action that will arouse pity and fear in the viewer and lead to a catharsis of said emotions.